I know you’ve got poll fatigue but we’re in a news holding pattern ahead of the debate. This one’s topical, though: Even before the first words are spoken in Florida tonight, Romney’s surged into a near tie with O on the two core components of foreign policy. Consider it insurance against a poor performance this evening. Barring any catastrophic gaffes, Romney seems to have already met the credibility threshold for the presidency, enough so that he’s even with an incumbent despite the country not yet having heard him talk foreign policy at length. If he does well tonight, he builds on that. If he does “meh,” eh. Probably won’t hurt him any.
With tonight’s debate focused on foreign policy, the poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds Romney virtually tied with Obama in trust to handle international affairs (49-46 percent, Obama-Romney) and terrorism (47-46 percent), as well as to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed services (48-45 percent). That reflects a shift in Romney’s favor; Obama led on terrorism by 11 points as recently as Sept. 29, and on international affairs by 7 points earlier this month.
In another milestone for Romney, 50 percent of likely voters express a favorable opinion of him overall, while 47 percent see him unfavorably – his highest popularity score of the season, and one of the rare times he’s been numerically above water in this measure. His personal popularity now roughly matches Obama’s 52-46 percent, favorable-unfavorable…
As well as close overall, the contest stands at 51-47 percent, Romney-Obama, in the nine battleground states designated by the ABC News Political Unit – well within the margin of sampling error, and not significantly different from the mid-month 51-46 percent, Obama-Romney, in these same states. But regardless of sampling error, the bigger number now is Romney’s, another indication of the competitiveness he’s showing.
I hope they’re going to poll those battleground states with a bigger sample. A nine-point swing may not be statistically significant in this case, but I’d sure like to know what sort of swing a proper sample is picking up. Strangely, while Romney’s gained ground on foreign affairs, Obama’s gained ground on the economy (he trails by just two), the deficit (he trails by four), and taxes (he leads by 11), which makes this poll the opposite of the CW — Obama’s improved domestically and Romney’s improved on international issues. Also strange is that ABC’s still picking up its largest gender gap of the season, a 14-point lead among women for O and a 12-point lead among men for Romney. A few other recent high-profile polls have shown Romney gaining with women. Proof that the left’s days-long fascination with “binder” references has paid off? Probably not:
Unlike their more conservative cohorts, these women agreed that abortion is not any of the federal government’s business. But they also didn’t believe abortion rights were on the line in the coming election. “It has never changed,” Zebib said. “We’ve had pro-life presidents many times, and it didn’t change. It’s a bumper sticker. They try to divert our attention.”
Eileen touched her friend’s arm. “Most women I know, whether they’re for Obama or Romney, they feel the same thing,” she said. “It’s a distraction. That whole Gloria Steinem thing is old.”…
Romney’s “binders full of women” line, an awkward phrasing that inspired reams of mockery on the Internet, wasn’t changing any minds among the women I spoke to. Democratic partisans saw it as more evidence Romney was out of touch; Republican partisans saw it as of a piece with his business background. “Anyone who’s ever been a professional, ever, knows that’s how you get resumes: in a binder,”43-year-old Republican stay-at-home mother Michele Moss said, rolling her eyes. Only someone who’d never been in the business world — like Obama — would fail to understand that.
The “binders” line didn’t register at all among the undecided women.
Yeah, it’s a strange thing for an ostensibly “progressive” administration to decide that the key to women’s votes runs through abortion and contraception when the most momentous progress they’ve made over the last 50 years has to do with jobs. Note to O: When women tell you they’re concerned about “labor,” they’re not referring to the last stages of pregnancy. Gallup:
Says Laura Genero at AmSpec, “Economics, not reproduction, is the women’s issue of the 21st century. It’s one of the ironies of this election that Mitt Romney– whose wife worked primarily inside the home — has a better grasp of this than President Obama, whose wife worked outside the home.” Tonight’s debate will probably have the smallest effect of the four this year on moving the gender gap one way or another, but we’ll see. Three days or so until the first post-debate polls.
Update: Like I was saying, the bulk of the evidence right now is that the gender gap is closing, not opening. New from CBS:
The poll also shows a narrowing of the gender gap. Women have given the President a nearly double-digit lead in many polls, including the September CBS News/New York Times Poll. Now, however, women support Mr. Obama by five points, 50 to 45 percent (down from 12 points last month); the race is even among men – tied at 47 percent.
Update: Via the Standard, no surprise here: